From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-This gentle picture book delivers its message with a minimum of didacticism. Outgoing, optimistic, and original, Penelope, a hippo, is excited about starting school. Her retiring friend Tiny, a mouse, is a pessimistic first-grader determined to prevent what he expects would be gaffes on her first day. Penelope plans to wear her favorite outlandish outfit, bring her well-worn stuffed toy for show-and-tell, and pack a picnic lunch. Tiny quashes her cheerful plans, dialing her down to jeans and a T-shirt, a rock, and PB&J. Undeterred, the hippo ignores Tiny's advice and shows up at the bus stop dressed as she originally planned. At school, they separate, rejoining for lunch. The lunchroom doors open in a double gatefold to reveal a blanket full of kindergarteners of various species, all sporting wild outfits and eating picnic food. (Some "stuffies" are in evidence as well.) Penelope declares the first day of school fun, and Tiny agrees. The text reads aloud smoothly, with Tiny's repeated, dismayed "Oh, no, no!" inviting participation. The brightly colored cartoon animals are appealingly cuddly looking. Pictorial thought bubbles are an effective device, and exuberant Penelope tends to fill full-color single pages and spreads. Cornelison is a master of facial expressions, displaying the characters' emotions for all to see. "Tips for a Hippo Happy First Day of School" are appended. Although plenty of starting-school books are available, this is a pleasant addition where more are needed.-Amy Lilien-Harper, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
A timid mouse and an over-the-top hippo are a year apart in age, giving the older friend an intellectual advantage. So Tiny the mouse decides to be his friend Penelope’s advisor in properly navigating the first day of school. A feather boa and tutu are definitely not good attire. Ditto packing an extravagant picnic. And bringing a beloved stuffed animal to show-and-tell just isn’t done. Tiny convinces Penelope that not standing out is important. Or does he? When a spread opens up like a door to reveal Penelope’s young classmates enjoying the same things she enjoys, Tiny finds himself agreeing that fun is definitely an important component of school, too. Feathery rainbow colors and expressive, cute creatures will draw readers in, though a concluding list of tips for a “Hippo Happy First Day of School” seems like overkill. Since the demand for books on this topic is always high when fall rolls around, this is a sure bet for plenty of checkouts. Preschool-Grade 1. --Karen Cruze